Texas Environmental News

An outside-of-court agreement has stopped the dredging of the Corpus Christi ship channel that was part of an expansion plan by Enbridge Corp to make way for the world’s largest tankers to load export crude oil. Three local groups challenged the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers dredging permit on the basis that the Army failed to fully consider the environmental impact of the project as well as the sacred lands involved. Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch Association, Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend and Karankawa Kadla Tribe of the Texas Gulf Coast filed the injunction in August. Love Sanchez, co-founder of Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend, told the Corpus Christi Caller, “We’re protectors of this land. We used to cultivate this land before it was developed.” In addition to the cultural significance of the site, Ingleside on the Bay said the amount of seagrass destruction was underestimated by the export terminal developers, significant because of the importance of the habitat for fish and shrimp nurseries. Enbridge, the largest oil pipeline corporation in the world, with headquarters in Calgary, said funds were set aside for environmental remediation work and were confident the federal courts in Texas would prevail in their favor. Enbridge recently bought MODA industries, the original developer of the export terminal, for $4 billion dollars earlier this year.

IOP Science conducted a measurement campaign of toxic releases from orphaned and shut oil wells earlier this year, noting that it was the first official terrestrial-based measurement of its kind in the Permian Basin, the world’s oldest producing and largest oil field. Of the 37 conventionally drilled and shut oil wells measured, the average leakage rate of 6.2 grams of methane per hour corroborated a 2020 EPA report that suggested methane from the oil and gas supply chain is the largest anthropogenic source of the greenhouse gas. The report also studied five orphaned wells that pushed produced water to the surface, sometimes in very large quantities (thousands of liters per minute), with evidence for emissions of methane, hydrogen sulfide, brine and possibly other hazardous chemicals. Many specialists believe stopping methane leaks is low-hanging fruit in the fight against climate change, but lack of enforcement has allowed the oil and gas industry a free ride.

Pro-oil Texas House of Representative Dan Crenshaw is in Glasgow this week to check out the international climate conference COP, according to DeSmogBlog. Crenshaw’s campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry amounted to $631,788 in 2018, and his Scottish trip may or may not be official business. But DeSmogBlog suggests he’ll be reporting to the industry rather than his constituents regarding the latest attempts to displace oil and gas as the world’s primary energy fuel. DeSmogBlog noted that pro-oil and climate change denier Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe attended COP in 2009 and said afterwards he went there to “make sure that nobody is laboring under the misconception that the U.S. Senate is going to do something (about climate change).” He added, “There’s not a chance in the world.”

A Port Arthur exporter of wood pellets has settled a lawsuit with the Sierra Club. Woodville Pellets LLC made the pellets out of fast-growing East Texas round wood and exported the fuel to European consumers as environmentally safe. After numerous complaints by neighbors near the Woodville plant, the Sierra Club came in as an intermediary claiming the plant was discharging illegal amounts of volatile organic compounds. According to Law 360, the two parties settled the suit outside of court on yet disclosed terms. The Sierra Club sued the company in August, claiming the facility was stalling the implementation of pollution controls. The environmental group alleged that the emissions violated the Clean Air Act and “would have required much more stringent emission controls.”

Richard Mark Glover lives in the Chama Valley of New Mexico with his wife Lorretta and two children after many years in West Texas. He is an award-winning journalist and author.